Pike Place Market
Established in 1907, Seattle's Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously operating and most historically authentic public market in the country. When the Pike Place Market was threatened with demolition and replacement, citizens of Seattle voted in 1971 to establish a seven-acre Pike Place Market Historical District and a Market Historical Commission to preserve its physical and social character as "the soul of Seattle." This section includes the history of the Market; the regulatory processes governing Market properties and uses; printable PDF application form; answers to frequently asked questions, meeting schedules and agendas of the Pike Place Market Historical Commission.
In 1907 the Seattle City Council designated the newly-planked Pike Place as a public market area where citizens could purchase fresh farm produce directly from local growers. On August 17, 1907 the first rainy Saturday it was open for business, the 8 farmers who came that day quickly sold everything they had brought to the crowd of nearly 10,000 eager shoppers. Only three months later, 120 farmers were selling from wagons lined up along Pike Place. By the end of the year a long narrow shed that contained 76 stalls for farmers and food vendors was being constructed to provide some protection from the weather. Rents ranged from $4 to $25 a month.
By 1917 much of the Market we know today was constructed - the Economy Market, Corner Market, Sanitary Market, and the lower levels of the Main Market. The Market continued to grow and thrive during the 1920s and the Depression of the 1930s.
During World War II business at the Market began to decline. In 1941 the Sanitary Market was severely damaged by fire. With the internment of Japanese after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Market lost more than half its farmers. Following the war, the Market's decline continued. Many younger people decided not to return to farming. Farmland in the Duwamish and Green River Valleys became increasingly industrialized. Supermarket chains began luring away customers. By the 1960s there were fewer than 100 farmers selling at the Market and the number of customers was at an all-time low.
In 1963 consultant Donald Monson prepared a plan for Seattle's downtown that recommended the modernization of the Market area into the Pike Plaza. The development was to feature office towers, apartments, and parking structures, with a much smaller, updated market. When public outcry urged preservation of the Market, a revised urban renewal plan was drawn up. As these new plans were publicized, citizen opposition to the proposed demolition of the Market increased. Spearheaded by architect Victor Steinbrueck, a group called "Friends of the Market" was formed and worked with other citizen organizations to put the issue of the Market's future on the November, 1971 ballot. That day, 73,369 people voted to preserve the Market and 53,264 opposed the initiative measure.
As a result, a seven-acre National Register of Historic Places and local Market Historical District was created to preserve the Market's core and a larger 22-acre area was established to provide opportunities for redevelopment and new construction. During the extensive ten-year restoration and redevelopment effort that followed, $50 million in public investment and $100 million in private money was channeled into the Market which is today a healthy, bustling community of merchants and residents.
2016 Agendas and Minutes
2015 Agendas and Minutes
What needs to be reviewed and approved by the Commission?
Any changes within the District must be approved and a Certificate of Approval issued by the Commission, such as:
- Changes to buildings, structures, and other visible elements.
- A proposed new business, service, or use.
- New signs or changes to existing signs, including off-premise signs.
- New marquees, awnings, or canopies.
- New construction, additions, or remodels.
- Changes in public areas, including alleys, sidewalks, and parks.
- Demolition of any building or structure.
- Changes to ceilings, walls, floors, or lighting.
- Security gates.
- Display structures.
- Sidewalk dining or seating areas.
To apply for a Certificate of Approval, please follow the instructions on this form:
1. What is the Pike Place Market Historical Commission?
The Pike Place Market Historical Commission is the quasi-governmental body established by Seattle residents when they voted to preserve the Market in 1971. It is comprised of twelve citizen volunteers appointed by the Mayor to review applications for design and use changes throughout the 9-acre Pike Place Market Historical District.
2. Who sits on the Market Historical Commission?
The Pike Place Market Historical Commission consists of twelve members appointed by the Mayor with confirmation by the City Council. The Mayor selects two representatives each from the Friends of the Market, Allied Arts of Seattle, and the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Architects based on a list of nominees submitted by each of those organizations. The Mayor also selects two owners of property with the Historical District; two merchants of the Market; and two residents of the Historical District to serve on the Commission.
3. What are the Commissioners' duties?
The Commissioners meet twice a month for public meetings. At these meetings, they address Commission policies; review, discuss, and vote on applications to make use and design changes to businesses in the Market District. Sub-committees of Commissioners are often created to review particular items or policies and to make recommendations to the full Commission.
4. What are the responsibilities of the Market Historical Commission compared to the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA)?
The Pike Place Market Historical reviews applications for design and use changes throughout the Pike Place Market Historical District. When an application is approved, the Historical Commission issues a Certificate of Approval.The PDA is a non-profit public corporation established by the City Charter in 1973. It owns and manages many of the buildings within the Historical District. The PDA must get approval from the Historical Commission for any design changes to "common area" improvements such as directory signs and hallway painting. Business owners who rent space from the PDA must apply for a Certificate of Approval for use and any improvements they make, just as they must when they rent space from private owners.
5. My business is located within the Market Historical District, do I need the Commission's approval to make changes?
Yes, the Commission must approve in advance of any changes in use, restoration, alteration, reconstruction, demolition, or new construction affecting any designated property, including buildings in historic districts.Types of changes reviewed by the Commission include:
- A proposed new business, service or use
- Proposed changes in use or service or existing market business
- Change of ownership for an existing business
- Changes to buildings, structures, and other visible elements
- New signs or changes to existing signs, including off-premise signs
- New marquees, awnings, or canopies
- New construction, additions, or remodels
- Changes in public areas, including alleys, sidewalks, and parks
- Demolition of any building or structure
- Changes to ceilings, walls, floor, or lighting
- Changes in interior design
- Security gates
- Display structures
- Sidewalk dining or seating areas
6. I have approval from the Preservation and Development Authority (PDA) to open a new business. Does the Pike Place Historical Commission need to review my plans too?
Yes. It is the responsibility of the Historical Commission to review all buildings and structures in the Pike Place Market Historical District according to design and use guidelines that ensure the Market retains its traditional character. City ordinance establishes a separate review process for the Historical Commission, so all businesses in the Historical District must obtain a Certificate of Approval from the Commission. This is necessary even if the rental space is owned by the PDA which also is subject to Historical Commission review.
7. How do I apply to the Market Historical Commission?
If you plan to make any change to the use or appearance of a structure or individual space within the Historical District, contact the Commission Coordinator at 206/684-0229 as early as possible so we can recommend next steps.To get your project reviewed and approved by the Historical Commission, you need to submit an application for a Certificate of Approval. You will be invited to attend a Use Review Committee and/or a Design Review Committee meeting to discuss your application and should also plan to attend the Historical Commission meeting where the report and recommendations of the Review Committee are presented.You can download the Instructions for Applying for a Certificate of Approval in the Pike Place Market Historical District and an Application form, or you may obtain them by calling the Commission Coordinator (206/684-0229) or by picking up the materials at the Commission's offices. Click here for our address. After completing the form, adding your descriptive materials, and obtaining you landlord's signature you may mail or drop off your application to the Commission's offices.
8. What guidelines are used to evaluate changes of use or design?
The use of space within the Market District and the design of major structures, individual business spaces, pedestrian ways, signs, sidewalk dining, and other elements crucial to maintaining the character of the District are governed by the Pike Place Market Historical District Guidelines. The Guidelines seek to help preserve and improve the district and were planned to be sensitive to its unique characteristics.The Commission bases all of its decisions on the standards set forth in the Guidelines, the District Ordinance (SMC25.24), and in the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. Contact the Commission Coordinator at (206) 684-0229 for a printed copy of any of these documents.
9. When is the next Market Historical Commission meeting?
Commission meetings are generally held on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in the PDA Conference Room, 85 Pike Street, Room 500. Only one meeting is scheduled during November and December.